The aftermath of war is often measured in body counts or economic damage; however, one of war’s most lasting impacts is the loss it imposes on children. Author Duk-Joong Won was just 12 years old when he was handed a small package and told to leave his mother behind, with reassurances that they would be reunited in three days. He never saw her again. Three-Day Journey is a gripping memoir of grief, faith, family, and ultimately triumph.
The author offers a brief but helpful overview of the Korean War while detailing his family’s migrations. After emigrating to the US with just $50 in hand, he earns his masters degree and Ph.D. Some episodes are repeated throughout the text but don’t slow things down mightily. Similarly, grammar and spelling aren’t perfect, but the writing overall is clear and simple enough that readers can easily bypass errors.
While Three-Day Journey reads like a memoir for the benefit of family and friends, with its inclusion of job changes and moves from this apartment to that, the emotional toll of war and the author’s triumphs are powerful on the page. More than once he was told his poor English was a barrier to success; he continued to persevere and each time proved his doubters wrong.
The “Journey” of the title serves as a metaphor for the author’s life path, culminating in his decision to leave the business world and become a minister, a vocation he stayed with until problems with his eyesight led him to retire. Despite the book’s narrative limitations, readers will be glad they shared the trip.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.